Media and the internet offer countless opportunities that help children develop their skills and understanding of the world they live in. When used correctly, the internet, for instance, has potential to broaden horizons and ignite creativity. However, with these opportunities comes great risks.
Heavy exposure to violent media content can be a risk factor for violent behavior, especially in children. Exposure to violent media content is one of the risk factors that can alter a child’s behavior and can influence them to act aggressively. Fortunately, this is one of the many risk factors that parents can have control over.
Since there are many great benefits to media and technology, including the potential to teach valuable skills, as a parent, you can make the choice to consistently expose your children to media content that reflects your own personal values while saying “no” to content that doesn’t.
Here are some tips to remember as you guide and keep your children safe from being affected by the virtual violence they are exposed to in movies and video games:
- Think about your child’s ‘media diet’
The content that your children watch on screens is very important, maybe more important than the time they spend in front of the screens. As thus, you need to be mindful of what your children are watching and what games they are playing.
If possible, you should consider watching or playing with your kids from time to time so as to have a clearer image of what they are getting exposed to.
If you have older children, it is vital that you talk to them about what they are seeing and doing on their smartphones and computers.
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- Be mindful of your own media habits
As a parent, you need to set the right example for your children. Especially when children are nearby, you should be careful of what you watch as most of the time the children will want to emulate you, including your movie preferences.
- Understand that your children can’t always distinguish between fantasy and reality
Children, especially the young ones, aren’t always capable of distinguishing between what is real and fantasy. To them ‘it’s just a movie’ may not mean or do much. It is advisable that any child under six years shouldn’t be exposed to virtual violence at all.
Also, violent games where killing is the main goal are not appropriate for any child irrespective of their age.
Remember, no popular movie or video game will ever be as important as your children.